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Most Marketers Can't Measure ROI of SEO, Social Media

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More than four in five marketing executives (82%) say they expect campaigns to be measured, yet few can effectively evaluate the ROI of key channels such as public relations (18%), search engine optimization (SEO) (24%), and social media (26%), according to a survey from Ifbyphone.

Marketers' capabilities in measuring ROI vary across marketing channels, but overall they have been most successful at measuring email (47%) and direct marketing (41%) campaigns.


Below, additional findings from Ifbyphone's State of Marketing Measurement survey.

When pressed to select the most difficult type of campaign to track, more than one-half of marketers cite offline channels such as public relations (33%) and print ads (27%).



Fewer marketers cite online ads (15%), email marketing (6%), and SEO/PPC as the most difficult campaigns to measure.

Measuring Keywords Most Challenging

Looking at online advertising specifically, marketers say they have the most trouble measuring which keywords drive the most clicks (40%), conversions (40%), and phone calls (37%).

Marketers also cite problems determining the optimal ad spend per channel (37%) and the right amount of money to bid on certain keywords (27%).

Marketing Tools

The inability to track ROI may be tied to a lack of use of available marketing tools. Among marketers, the most popular tools include those for Web analytics (48%), email marketing software analytics (47%), lead counts from online contact forms (38%), social media monitoring (30%), and call tracking (27%).

Interestingly, most marketers are satisfied with their marketing tool sets: 58% agree and 13% strongly agree they have the tools they need to measure the ROI of their marketing campaigns.

How Success Is Measured

Most marketing dollars are measured in terms of sales and new business: 62% of marketers track net increases in sales and 57% track the number of new customers acquired.


Roughly one-third of marketers track leads generated (39%), customer retention (33%), and awareness (33%).

About the study: Findings from "The State of Marketing Measurement" are based on a survey of more than 200 US marketing professionals across a wide range of B2B and B2C industries, conducted by  Ifbyphone in the fourth quarter of 2011. Some 57% of responders were from companies with 1-100 employees.


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  • by Danny Schotthoefer Wed Dec 14, 2011 via web

    It's sort of ironic that I read this this week, because last week I read this: Social Media ROI Hypocrisy (http://www.webinknow.com/2011/12/social-media-roi.html) - For me, David Meerman Scott really presents a lot of the errors in marketing today. He hits them head on as well, and offers zero apologies. He is right, we worry about the ROI of Social Media, but what about the ROI of all the other tools we use for communication. It's hypocritical. For the record: I measure everything. I have to in my community, where people are still VERY hesitant to believe in the web, let alone something as fast paced as social media and mobile technologies.

  • by Steinar Knutsen Sun Dec 18, 2011 via web

    Measuring ROI is a tricky business because you can't rely on a one-size-fits-all approach. It really depends on the specific goals of the given campaign and how those relate to the overall business objectives. In my experience, this requires establishing clear expectations, pre-defined metrics to define success and a custom process for measuring success against these metrics.

  • by Laura Patterson Fri Mar 9, 2012 via web

    I'm concerned about this approach to marketing ROI, which for these charts should really be called campaign ROI. Malcolm McDonald a well known professor in the UK, would put it this way. How is asking marketing to measure nd report on campaign ROI any different than asking an aerospace engineer to measure and report on the ROI of the wings for the plane he is designing and building? I think we need to be careful not to get into this trap of measuring the ROI of the wings when what we need to be thinking about is the ROI of the plane.

  • by Steinar Knutsen Fri Mar 9, 2012 via web

    Great analogy Laura!

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